While last week’s “True Blood” was lacking in the areas in which it is ordinarily strong, it did set the stage for exciting things to come – events that begin to play out in “Burning Down The House.” This hour kicks off with a brilliant scene and keeps the intrigue coming at the non-stop pace for which “True Blood” is known. And let us not forget what the memorable last shot of the episode promises to show us come 9 p.m. next Sunday.

The Players:

Episode Title: “Burning Down The House”

Sookie uses her powers to save Bill from Marnie, in the process reversing the spell on Eric; Jason asks Jessica to glamour him to save his and Hoyt’s relationship; Bill makes plans to blow up Moongoddess Emporium; Terry stages an intervention for Andy’s sake; Alcide’s allegiance to the pack is tested by Marcus’s fight with Tommy; Jesus, Sookie, Lafayette and Jason attempt a rescue mission at Moongooddess Emporium before it is blown to smithereens.

The Good:

  • The battle: What a way to start off an episode! And I’m not just talking about Eric and Bill going one-on-one. While combat is always fun to watch, it is almost predictable at this point in the series, since none of the trinity of main characters will die – permanently, that is. The most exciting thing to happen here, in truth, is the sudden reversal of Marnie’s spell, giving Eric back his memory after these many long episodes. The abruptness with which the spell is broken is somewhat comical, but I am mostly thankful to have the real Eric back, however whipped he still remains. I just hope that he gets more of his bark back in addition to his bite in the remaining to episodes of the season.
  • Conflicted Marnie: Marnie/Antonia delivers a fantastic performance in this episode as a woman facing conflict within her own corporeal form. It is a very physical, very affected dual performance that stands out, once again elevating Marnie/Antonia above all other characters in the series.
  • Tommy: Sam has some very touching scenes with his brother, very sad ones that at last bring closure to their long and difficult relationship. Although I was never particularly fond of Tommy as a character, I feel sorry for both of them, particularly for Sam. For this plotline to have elicited that response, the writing staff must have done something right.
  • Sam’s revenge: I’m excited by how Tommy’s fate lights a fire under Sam to seek revenge against the werewolves. His intensity and drive strengthens this subplot and invests the viewer in it a whole lot more.
  • Jesus transforms: Prior to this episode, Jesus had been taking more of a backseat to Lafayette and other principle characters in the series. After walking through Marnie/Antonia’s magical barrier and personifying the magic he practices, he suddenly went into useful – and bada** – mode. It’s safe to say that he will be given a lot more challenges to overcome in the next two episodes.
  • Vampire covert ops: Slow-motion shots set to hard-driving rock songs are utterly clichéd, but for a show with as much camp as “True Blood”, the very last shot of the episode is the perfect touch. Of course, it would have been even better to see more of the scene play out before the usual cut to black, but the set up for all-out war that this shot implies is nevertheless a great image to leave with the viewer.
  • Line of the night: Lafayette is, as always, right on the money: “Find Tara. She’ll be the loudest.”

The So-So:

  • Fort Bellefleur: It is difficult to care about Andy’s plight when so much else is at stake for the supernatural beings (and some select humans) of Bon Temps. It seems like yet another weak, unnecessary garden path that distracts us from the more important events of the episode. The subtext – which eventually becomes the text of Andy and Terry’s scenes – apparently comes out of nowhere. I couldn’t help but roll my eyes at Andy half the time he was on screen.
  • Not enough depth: One thing I noticed about this episode was that it picked up on a number of ideas – Jessica’s refusal to glamour Jason, Sam’s revenge – and only showed one or two scenes pushing the respective subplots forward. In that way, this episode seemed to be spread out a little too thin. It may have benefited from greater depth in some areas of particular interest to viewers (I vote for more scenes with Jason and Jessica, but that’s just me).

Overall:

While not a flawless episode, “Burning Down The House” is a great improvement over last week. The events that come to pass in this episode, especially those relating to minor characters, tie together in a way that strengthens the main plotline of this arc. At the very least, I’m incredibly interested in seeing just how the vampires’ plan to finally get rid of Marnie/Antonia plays out.

Rating: 8/10

“True Blood” airs every Sunday night on HBO!

What did you think of last night’s episode?